USC gets passing grades in Academic Progress Rate report

All USC sports stayed away from potential penalties in the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Rate report, released today for the 2008-2009 academic year.

The report measures four full academic years, dating to 2005-2006.

In football, the Trojans earned a multiyear score of 965, third in the Pac-10 conference behind Stanford and Cal. In basketball, the Trojans' four-year APR is still a lowly 924 — under the line the NCAA sets for imposing penalties — but the hoops program escaped punishment because of a 980 score in 2008-2009, showing an upward trend from previous years.

Possible punishments can include a loss of scholarships, but the NCAA typically exercises that power only in drastic circumstances.

In terms of APR, USC's best sport was women's golf, with a perfect score of 1000 — although that number will decline in the years to come with the departure of golfer Jennifer Song after just two years of school. Two other women's sports, soccer and rowing, scored better than 990.

The highest-scoring men's sport was baseball, with a score of 988 that put Chad Kreuter's squad above the 90th percentile among all baseball programs nationwide and earned the team a spot on the NCAA's Public Recognition List. Along with women's golf, baseball was one of two USC teams to earn such an award.

The NCAA reported that baseball scores were going up for many schools, because of what the athletics governing body termed a "number of sport-specific policy changes supported by the baseball community and NCAA presidents and chancellors."

USC's lowest score was turned in by the men's golf team, which earned a score of 913 for the 2008-2009 academic year. Coach Chris Zambri's squad, which tied for 15th nationally at last week's NCAA championships, also escaped punishment because of a four-year score of 976.

According to the NCAA, APR "includes eligibility, retention, and graduation as factors in the rate calculation and provides a much clearer picture of the current academic culture in each sport." It also "provides a real-time 'snapshot' of a team’s academic success each semester by looking at current academic progress of every student-athlete."